Dirk Pitt has to stop an evil CEO of an oil and natural gas company in the US from establishing absolute monopoly over oil resources and supplies. It is a typical Dirk Pitt novel dealing with a countdown, bribed officials, and ruthless evil leaders. Pitt also unravels the work of a brilliant, reclusive scientist who had made great advances in oil technology, traced the history and found the remains of a Viking settlement on the Hudson River, and discovered the remains of Captain Nemo's Nautilus and unriddled and improved its power system (a magnetohydrodynamic engine). In the end Dirk is approached by his 23-year old twin children and finds out from them that his former lover Summer hadn't actually died in an underwater earthquake (as Dirk had believed) but had survived and raised the twins herself because she didn't want Dirk to know about her injured and pathetic state after the earthquake.
After the cruise liner Emerald Dolphin sinks, Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino discuss about how the RMS Titanic supposedly broke into two before sinking, according to survivors. This directly contradicts the narrative of Cussler's earlier novel Raise the Titanic!, also featuring Pitt and Giordino as the protagonists, in which they raise the sunken liner, and are able to do so only because the ship was in one piece. According to the Dirk Pitt timeline, the Titanic should have been whole, and anchored at a Maritime museum during the course of the novel.
Clive Cussler makes a cameo appearance in the novel as himself, rescuing Pitt and the others from the sea in his catamaran, and then helping them in infiltrating the mercenaries' island and rescuing the hijacked research ship.
The climax scene, depicting a planned terror attack in Manhattan, near the World trade centre, by ramming a transport craft, is eerily similar to the 911 attacks, which occurred soon after the novel was written. The novel's timeline, though, is in 2003, which actually makes it impossible since the WTC of 2001 had been destroyed before the novel's timeline.